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Texas Democrats roll out voter registration drive amid debate over restrictions

Texas Democrats roll out voter registration drive amid debate over restrictions
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Texas Democrats on Tuesday rolled out an expansive voter registration drive amid a fierce fight over Republican legislation that would curtail access to the voting booth.

The state Democratic Party announced the creation of Project Texas, an initiative that would target what it says are the more than 2 million eligible Texans who would likely vote Democratic but are not yet registered. The top groups that would be highlighted are Hispanic and Black Texans and people 25 years old or younger, all key constituencies for the broader Democratic Party. 

The party cast the drive as an effort to reverse a losing streak in Texas despite growing optimism over the state’s changing demographics while fighting back against the GOP-led bill to restrict voting.

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“Our takeaway from the 2020 election is clear: if we want to save our state from Texas Republicans and their extremist agenda, we need to register more voters. And we know that our path to victory is grounded in investing in the inclusion of all Texans, especially those in underrepresented communities across the state,” said Texas Democratic Party chief strategy officer Luke Warford.

“This spring, Republicans made their strategy clear: they are so afraid of being voted out of office that they are simply trying to stop Texans who don’t agree with them from voting. Voter registration is an immediate and concrete way we can fight back — by helping more Texans get to the ballot box.”

The state party’s registration drive will be split into two phases. Democrats will first test out six different approaches through a pilot program and will then scale up the strategies that prove to be most effective in 2022.

The effort will involve a combination of field operations, mail outreach, digital ads and in-person canvassing.

The drive’s announcement comes as Democrats in the state look to build on a temporary victory last month after they successfully blocked the GOP’s sprawling voting bill, which would limit early voting and curbside voting, bar round-the-clock voting centers, curtail the use of drop boxes and more.

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However, Republicans in Texas, led by Gov. Greg Abbott, have said they plan on returning for a special session to pass the legislation.

“Right now, Republicans are attacking Texans in almost every way possible — and it’s never been so urgent for us to fight back by working for the inclusion and representation of all Texans,” Warford said.

Besides fighting back against the voting restrictions, the registration drive will also likely be used to shore up key weaknesses that were exposed during the 2020 cycle.

Democrats were buoyed by their chances to make gains in Texas as the state diversifies at a rapid clip, last year targeting Sen. John CornynJohn CornynBlack lawmakers warn against complacency after Juneteenth victory The Senate is where dreams go to die Federal government to observe Juneteenth holiday on Friday MORE (R), the state House and even the state’s 38 Electoral College votes. However, Cornyn and then-President TrumpDonald TrumpHead of firms that pushed 'Italygate' theory falsely claimed VA mansion was her home: report Centrists gain foothold in infrastructure talks; cyber attacks at center of Biden-Putin meeting VA moving to cover gender affirmation surgery through department health care MORE won the state handily, and Democrats made no progress in flipping the state House. 

While Democrats saw a vote surge in the state, they underperformed with Hispanics, particularly in the crucial southern part of the state. More than half of the voters the party is targeting in Texas are Hispanic, underscoring the importance of winning those voters back and by big margins.

The party plans on rolling out a “strong Spanish-language component” in its drive and will tailor its outreach based on a potential voter’s living situation.

For instance, younger voters will be targeted by online ads, while in-person outreach will be conducted for those without phone numbers. 

“While Republicans are trying to silence Texans, with Project Texas, we are going to help as many Texas voters as possible make their voices heard,” said Warford.